That outgoing UPC party president Olara Otunnu has an unusual approach to Ugandan politics is an open secret. Still, observers have said, his announcement on May 18 that the party was extending an olive branch to party stalwart Jimmy Akena and other contenders who had missed the deadline for picking nomination forms to contest the party presidency showed unusual maturity. Many people had expected Otunnu to block Akena from contesting. Akena, who is the Lira Municipality MP and son of the UPC founding president, the late former President of Uganda; Apollo Milton Obote, failed to pick nomination forms because he and others were contesting Otunnu’s leadership in court.
Akena’s group which was led in court by his wife Betty Amongi, who is also the Oyam County South woman MP, and Fred Ebil had challenged the Otunnu administration as being illegally in office since Otunnu`s tenure of office had expired on March 10. They said he was, therefore, unqualified to call for party presidency elections. But the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala on May 6 ruled that although Otunnu’s tenure had expired, he remains president of the party and is mandated to organise the election of his successor. The ruling left Akena’s hopes of taking over the reins of UPC in doubt.
Fortunately for Akena, Otunnu opted for reconciliation and not confrontation. Akena, who attended the Otunnu briefing at Uganda House in Kampala, said he was happy with the outcome.